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Age in place

Chris Farrell Dec 6, 2011

Americans are getting older. We all know this. Still, the coming growth surge in seniors is striking. The chart below, from the Brookings Institution, highlights the aging of the baby boomers.

The retirement message of two bear markets and two recessions in less than a decade (with another recession a distinct possibility if Europe doesn’t get its act together) is that people will have to work longer. In this article for Kiplinger’s, I argue that an important implication of working longer is that it doesn’t make sense to move to another part of the country in your elder years.  

If you work longer, that will probably influence where you retire. For most people, it makes sense to stay where they are because they can more easily find jobs and volunteer opportunities by tapping their established network of nearby friends, family members and acquaintances. A cottage industry of academic research convincingly shows that some 50% or more of all jobs come through informal channels — connections to friends, families and colleagues. Experience tells us that having such a network makes it far easier for a soon-to-be-retiree to get a part-time consulting contract, an opportunity to use hard-earned know-how at a local business, or a chance to draw on a private-sector background to help out a nonprofit venture.

If you pick up stakes during the traditional retirement years, your valuable community networks are suddenly useless.

A previous generation researched where to live in the elder years: preferably someplace warm like Sun City. For boomers, it makes much more sense to look around their current home and neighborhood to figure how they can comfortably age — and work — in place.

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